Godolphin trainer's disgrace complete with eight-year ban

BHA disciplinary panel bars horses injected with steroids from running for six months

The British Horseracing Authority has completed the astounding, headlong fall from grace of Mahmood al-Zarooni by banning him for eight years. On Monday evening, the BHA had shocked the racing world by announcing that 11 of the Godolphin trainer's horses had tested positive for anabolic steroids in random testing of 45 horses at his Newmarket stable on 9 April. It took only 72 hours to convene a disciplinary panel and pronounce a verdict on Zarooni – leaving observers divided as to whether the regulators had been merely ruthless, or reckless.

In a way, it hardly mattered whether he was banned for eight minutes or eight years. His employer, Sheikh Mohammed, has professed such fury over the humiliation of his elite stable that he has shut its gates, pending tests on every horse. The 37-year-old Zarooni's career is in ruins.

Simon Crisford, the Godolphin manager, said after the hearing that "the vet's assistant had no idea what he was injecting" and that he "had a direct order" from the trainer. "This is a terrible situation," Crisford said.

"Mr Al-Zarooni acted with awful recklessness and caused tremendous damage, not only to Godolphin and British racing. I think it will take a very long time for Godolphin to regain the trust of the British public. We're shocked and completely outraged by the actions he has taken."

As soon as the sensation had erupted, the Godolphin website quoted Zarooni as professing regret for "a catastrophic error" in administering ethylestranol to seven horses and stanozolol to a further four; he subsequently admitted that four other horses not tested by the BHA had been given steroids. He claimed that he had been unaware that he was breaching any rules, as the horses were out of competition. This would have been the case in certain overseas jurisdictions, but Crisford said that he did not find that protest of naïvete credible. "Everyone knows you can't use steroids in England," he declared.

Zarooni issued another contrite statement. "I accept it was my responsibility to be aware of the rules," he said. "I would like to apologise to Sheikh Mohammed, as well as to all those involved with Godolphin, and the public who follow British racing."

The BHA had initially been told the trainer would have a legal representative as he answered charges before its disciplinary panel. In the event, he faced the music on his own. It seems as though no exculpation was ever going to be offered. His name was on the licence, after all, and the rules specify strict liability for trainers in such circumstances. But the BHA stressed that its investigation had established Zarooni's direct accountability. It also emerged after the hearing that the BHA will conduct the horse-by-horse testing at Moulton Paddocks, the yard at the centre of the scandal.

The 15 horses known to have received steroids were meanwhile suspended for six months – almost the entire Flat season. Certify, previously among the leading fancies for the 1,000 Guineas on Sunday week, is among those who must remain idle until 9 October. Jamie Stier, the BHA director of raceday operations and regulation, explained: "The suspension reflects the period beyond which the BHA is confident that the horses can have derived no performance-related benefit from these prohibited substances."

Paul Bittar, its chief executive, insisted that the BHA had not shown undue haste. "As soon as the nature and number of positives became apparent, we recognised a number of challenges for the sport and the BHA, initially in the very short term," he said. "The immediate priority was to establish how the prohibited substances came to be present in the horses' samples. Secondly, in view of the potential repercussions for the sport and the profile of the races for which some of the horses held entries, it was in the public's interest, as well as that of the BHA and Godolphin, to progress the disciplinary procedures as quickly as possible."

Ultimately, he felt that an "exceptional" case also had benefits. "We believe the outcome is an endorsement for the effectiveness of British racing's dope-testing programme," he said. "[It] will serve to reassure the public, and the sport's participants, that use of performance-enhancing substances in British racing will not be tolerated."

 



Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments